Friday, January 07, 2005

Maximizing Wanted Pregnancies - Minimizing Abortions

This post assumes the current situation under Roe v. Wade with relationship to abortion. It does not address the morality or advisability of abortion since this issue has already been discussed on this forum. Because it only addresses the question of how to bring about conditions such that unwanted pregnancies and the abortions that are sought because of them may be kept to a minimum, situations in which the termination of wanted pregnancies, either because they have been deemed necessary by a medical professional for the preservation of the life or health of the mother or because of various genetic problems impacting the viability of the unborn baby, are not addressed.


I have undertaken to answer the question: how can it be assured that as many pregnancies as possible are wanted pregnancies--or stated another way, as few pregnancies as possible are unwanted pregancies--so that abortions are as rare as possible? This question assumes that not even the most pro-choice individual finds abortions to be desirable in and of themselves but merely that free access to abortion is essential in a far from perfect world. It must be admitted, even by the most pro-life individual, that the world we live in is far from perfect.

In my opinion, we are never going to live in a world where all pregnancies are wanted. There will always be rapists and molesters who impregnate their victims. Such traumas are devastating enough to the emotional well being of the victims even without a resulting pregnancy. It would take a remarkable woman, indeed, to want to be pregnant from a rape and it seems likely that children may not safely bear children even if they so desired. These are examples of instances that, for the foreseeable future, are likely to continue to result in unwanted pregnancies.

I see no viable way to prevent these problems. Few individuals whose proclivities run to violent violation of unwilling victims and sex with children seem to be able to control themselves. There is some evidence (this is the abstract; the study itself is available in PDF format by pressing 'PDF') that, if they can become engaged in group therapy (as opposed to merely court-enforced attendance) and will admit to their culpability in the offence, progress can be made toward limiting repeat offenses. This conference report emphasizes the need for rapists to both accept responsibility for their actions and recognize the short-term and long-term consequences of their actions (p. 19) if they are to be successful in their life after release from prison. Even successful rehabilitation does not prevent the crimes, but it does limit future crimes of this nature, which does bear positively on our question. How are such successes achieved? This is beyond my scope of knowledge.

The only preventative measures of which I can conceive would be if we could discover, in advance of their crimes, which individuals will commit rapes or molest and separate them from society before the fact. It seems unlikely that a method of such discovery will be soon forthcoming. Even if we could discover genetic or psychological traits that mark likely rapists or molesters, unless or possibly even if such traits could be proven to infallibly point out future offenders, separating out such individuals before they have actually committed any crime is constitutionally problematic.

In a different category are women who, for example, would like to get a college degree and make her mark in some profession or vocation but, unfortunately, the condom broke at her most fertile moment, in other words, unplanned pregnancies that pose an impediment to the course of life planned by the mother.

Such instances can be minimized by the consistent use of more than one reliable birth control method, for example, a condom containing a spermicide and the pill. They could be eliminated altogether, of course, by abstaining from intercourse until ready for children, however, few adults, especially married adults are likely to go this route. It is, however, my preferred route for unmarried teens for whom pregnancy would completely alter their desired life course.

The sex-drive, being as strong as it is, especially in the teen-age years, it seems likely that, even with a commitment to abstinence on the part of teen girls, some will fail in their commitment and have intercourse that could result in an unwanted pregnancy. The availability of multiple forms of birth control to such teens and an understanding of their proper use and a commitment on their part to use more than one form of birth control properly and consistently will greatly reduce the occurrence of unwanted pregnancy as discussed in the above paragraph. To provide abstinence training with no availability or knowledge of the proper use of multiple forms of birth control will likely result in more unwanted pregnancies.

Some might object that providing birth control and education in their use to young teens will result in an increase of intercourse among young teens. While I don't know that this would inevitably result, I concede the possibility. I would find that preferable, however, to the alternative, namely, unmarried teens having unprotected or improperly protected sex resulting in unwanted pregnancies and/or the transmission of STD's.

The Editor

10 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

There have been 32 million abortions in the US since Roe v. Wade. Of which 18 million would be of voting age. Democrats would have won by a landslide if they weren't killing their unborn.

1/09/2005 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

While what you say may be true, it does not really contribute to the narrow topic under consideration. I would hope that we could discuss the topic question.

1/09/2005 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Rape is bad and is difficult to stop (and pre-emptive stopping it via genetic procilivities testing is creepy and Orwellian). I agree.

Even those who use multiple prevention measures can (because of failure of said measures or because the people unfortunately find themselves outside of the standard deviations of protection offered) become pregnant. Can't do much about that, I agree.

Abstinance-only education completely ignores all facts that kids need to know about the proper use of and risks associated with using protection. Why birth control isn't necessarily enough (particularly in the case of STDs) and why you have to use a condom a certain way or you may as well not use one at all. There are so many myths about sex that circulate with kids -- especially those kids who have parents that are either too shy or too rigid to talk about sex or anything other than abstinance -- that it is imperative that schools do what they can to dispel those myths.

The only thing that I don't necessarily agree with is that unmarried couples having sex or teenagers having sex is not an inherently bad thing. However, that's just a different way of approaching the subject and is moot since we apparently come to the same conclusions.

1/10/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger panthergirl said...

I think there's an entirely different opportunity available for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. MEN taking some responsibility when it comes to birth control. Take it from me, ...if a woman is willing to have unprotected sex, men are all over it. I have never, ever encountered a man who insisted on using a condom. As we all know, there is no form of birth control that is 100% effective, so using more than one form is advisable. If men came equipped (no pun intended...oh, well ok...pun intended) there might be fewer "accidents". As it stands now, until the technology behind condom-design improves men are going to be reluctant to use them.

As far as sex-only-for-procreation goes, I don't subscribe to that. I'm a menopausal woman so pregnancy isn't an issue for me anymore, but 2 years ago I was a sexually active adult who did not want more children. Was I supposed to "hang it up" until my hardware shut down?

1/10/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

I think there's an entirely different opportunity available for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. MEN taking some responsibility when it comes to birth control.How is that different from what I mentioned in my post? I wrote:

Such instances can be minimized by the consistent use of more than one reliable birth control method, for example, a condom containing a spermicide and the pill.Who did you think would be wearing the condom? {:^>)

You wrote:
Was I supposed to "hang it up" until my hardware shut down?Nope. My words about abstenence came immediately upon my suggestion of using multiple forms of birth control. I admitted that few adults would opt for the abstenence (from forms of sex that might result in pregnancy), however, it is the only flawless option.

A woman in such a position is supposed to weigh her options, preferably in conversation with her partner. If such a couple were willing to risk the small possibility of pregnancy during multiply-protected sex, however, I think they should be willing to bear (literally and to birth) the responsibility if their precautions fail. Adults have privileges, they need to be ready to accept the consequences of their choices.

1/10/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem that I see with your argument is it has been shown throughout the past 25 years that more access to birth control has actually increased promiscuity. I don't know of any studies done, but just look what has happened in the past 25 or so years... young people especially have had a much greater access to birth control and we have also seen increasingly higher rates of teen pregnancies, abortions, STD's and so on.

I think this is happening because there is a the prevailing attitude in our culture that "it can't happen to me." Even with all the "education" that the youth in our society get they are still not using birth control. And much of this happens because some of these young girls actually WANT a baby. That aside though, I don't see that easier access to birth contol (going to Planned Parenthood, the Dr. or anywhere else) has helped or would help more.

I will say that I believe in abstinance until marriage, but with some volunteer work I have done in the last 5 years I have come into contact with many girls that don't even know that they CAN say no, can have enough respect for their own body to wait until a man that will cherish them for life comes into their life. I think abstinence education CAN and WILL make a difference.

1/12/2005 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

The problem that I see with your argument is it has been shown throughout the past 25 years that more access to birth control has actually increased promiscuity.I address this issue. I am a firm believer in abstenence until people are old enough, not physically but mentally and emotionally, to take responsibility for child bearing. Young people should be taught that they can say no. They should be taught what behaviors can result in pregnancy and/or STD's. They should be taught that refraining from these activities is the only way to prevent pregnancy and/or STD's.

I cannot, however, enforce abstenence upon young people nor be with them every moment to stop them from doing anything for which they are not prepared to take responsibility. In the real world, people who have not reached that state of readiness nevertheless engage in activities that may result in pregnancy and/or the spread of STD's. The only thing I can do is assure that such people have the tools and knowledge to prevent pregnancies for which they are not prepared.

People cannot be made to use birth-control, even when availability and knowledge are not a problem. The question addressed is how to maximize wanted (or, as you say, planned) pregnancies. If some will use the available forms of birth control and correct knowledge of their use, some unwanted pregnancies will be prevented.

1/12/2005 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

"The problem that I see with your argument is it has been shown throughout the past 25 years that more access to birth control has actually increased promiscuity. I don't know of any studies done, but just look what has happened in the past 25 or so years... young people especially have had a much greater access to birth control and we have also seen increasingly higher rates of teen pregnancies, abortions, STD's and so on."Promiscuity is not necessarily a bad thing when protection is used. That is exactly the reason that safe sex practices (other than abstinence) must be taught. And there are studies that show that schools that only have abstinence education have higher STD and birth rates than schools with safe sex education. It is not the availability of protection and promiscuity that has led to higher birth, abortion, and STD rates, it is the fact that kids are not getting the education they need to make smart decisions.

1/14/2005 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Parental Notification Wouldn't Curb Teen Sex, Survey FindsBy Lindsey Tanner The Associated Press
Published: Jan 18, 2005

CHICAGO (AP) - Laws that would require parents to be notified when teens seek birth control would do little to curb underage sex and could cause a troubling number of girls to engage in unsafe intercourse, a survey of teens in 33 states suggests.

Nearly one in five teen girls surveyed at federally funded family planning clinics nationwide said they would either use no birth control or unreliable methods, and only 7 percent said they would stop having sex if parental-notification laws were enacted, according to the study by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, an advocacy group that supports reproductive choice.

The results, based on responses from 1,526 girls under the age of 18 who were given anonymous questionnaires, echo smaller, more local studies.

The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obtaining contraceptive prescriptions was the most common reason for the girls' visits to the clinics, but other reasons included pregnancy testing and Pap tests, said Guttmacher researcher Rachel Jones.

Sixty percent said their parents knew about the visits, and 59 percent said they would continue to seek contraception at the clinic even if parental-notification laws were enacted.

However, 18 percent said they would avoid birth control or would use the rhythm or withdrawal methods during sex, which are far less reliable than contraceptives. The result likely would be an increase in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, Jones said.

Forty-six percent of girls said they would use over-the-counter methods such as condoms instead of prescription birth control if such laws were enacted.

Some girls checked more than one response when queried about the laws.

Parental-notification proposals that would affect federally funded clinics have been repeatedly introduced in Congress in the past few years. Local laws requiring at least some minors to inform their parents when seeking prescription contraceptives are already in place in Texas, Utah and at least one county in Illinois, Guttmacher Institute research shows.

Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, a group that supports abstinence and parental notification, called the study misleading and "an attempt to manipulate public policy."

Abstinence is more effective than birth control at avoiding "all the problems" associated with teen sex, including disease risk, pregnancy and too-early emotional attachment, Wright said.

---

On the Net:

JAMA: http://jama.ama-assn.org

1/18/2005 08:22:00 PM  
Blogger Craig R. Harmon said...

Thank you for the comment and the link, Mike, but I would like to se an independent scientific study...not done by "an advocacy group that supports reproductive choice." There are just too many ways that surveys can be fudged to be left to an advocacy group with an ax to grind on either side of the question.

It's nice to see that two sentences were given over to someone with an alternate point of view...even if two sentences do not a balance make.

1/19/2005 12:35:00 PM  

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